When I graduated from college, I moved back home with my parents to save money (ah yes, the perpetual millennial plight). I packed up my four years of college into the back of my Jeep, and made that final, milestone drive home. As I was unpacking in my childhood bedroom, it hit me: why do I have so much stuff? How, in my four years of being at college, did my possessions seem to quadruple? And why on earth did I ever think that I needed all of this? I had boxes of pointless junk laying around my bedroom for months, because I had nowhere to put any of it. Trying to fit all my clothes in the closet was completely hopeless. I had books piled on top of each other on shelves, and plastic bags full of makeup on the floor. After two months, it became too much.
I purged everything – I dug through my closet and pulled out items of clothing that I had once loved, but hadn’t worn in ages. Sun dresses, jeans, t-shirts, shoes, everything. By the end of it, I donated about ten garbage bags full of clothes. With the biggest project tackled, I moved on – makeup, books, old knick knacks. I tossed old, grimy makeup, piled unwanted books into a box to be donated, and sifted through various items that I had could have only been keeping for some lost sentimental reason.
When it was all good and done, I felt like I could finally breathe again. Six months later, I still get rid of anything I can to make room in my life – not for more things, but just for possibility. For space. Physical possessions have started to feel like weighted shackles chained to my ankles.
I don’t know why I ever thought I needed so much stuff. Sure – I’ll always love clothes, and shoes, and purses, and just treating myself to retail therapy in general. But an old college roommate of mine once said something to me, during a conversation in which we were talking about how much we both loved to travel, and it has stuck with me ever since. It went a little something like this: “I almost never go shopping, buy clothes or go out to eat – because every time I spend, I just think about where that money could have bought me a flight to.”
Ever since then, that’s how I think. Before I spend money on anything nonessential, I think about where that money could take me - and it has completely changed my spending habits.
That idea, combined with the anxiety that was created by having so much stuff, is what fueled my desire to get rid of a lot of it. I sold a lot of stuff that at one point I thought I “needed” – old phones, iPods, video games, camera equipment, clothes, jewelry. The concept that potential possibilities are worth more than physical possessions seems to be pretty obvious, but sometimes people tend to forget about it . And with each item I packed up and shipped off, I felt more and more weight being lifted. I’ve started to pay more attention to my blessings instead of my possessions, actively being thankful for everything good in my life that wasn’t grounded in a physical object.
Some people love the holidays, some people don’t. I happen to be one of those annoying people who starts listening to Christmas music in November. But even if you’re not exactly fond of the holiday spirit – make sure you look back on this past year (boy, wasn’t 2016 a doozy), and remember to count your blessings instead of your things.
I’m thankful for my loving family, my supportive, loyal friends, and for my adoring boyfriend. I’m thankful to be in good health, and I’m thankful for my three dogs, which bring joy into my life each and every day. I’m thankful for warm sunny days, the ocean, and holiday cheer. And I’m thankful for all the opportunities I have been and will be given.